| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Anti-Government Protests Persist in Thailand Despite Record COVID-19 Cases

Although Thailand struggles with surging COVID-19 cases, anti-government protesters were met with a large police presence in Bangkok this the weekend.

Hundreds of activists took to the streets in the capital calling for political reforms. The reform demands stemmed from the widespread anti-government movement last year coupled with anger at the slow rollout of vaccines against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

But despite Bangkok’s spiking COVID-19 cases, neither a partial lockdown of the capital nor its damp weather could prevent groups from gathering Sunday.

By mid-afternoon Sunday, protesters had gathered on motorbikes and in cars near the Victory Monument in the Ratchathewi district. To mark the beginning of Buddhist Lent, those walking wore traditional costumes. Others held up three fingers, a symbol of the reform movement.

As protesters attempted to march to Bangkok’s Government House to demand that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O-cha and his cabinet resign, they were met by lines of riot police. Roads were blocked by barricades strung with barbed-wire and large shipping containers

One student protester in Bangkok, who said her English-name is Tyler, said she was protesting for government reforms but also more equality, including women’s rights.

“We see it is unfair in this country, and we have to reform it,” she said.

The resurgence of last year’s demonstrations began in June, but it was only last week that clashes escalated. Thai authorities deployed tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse angry street demonstrations.